Rooney calls for replacing DOL commissioner after weeks-long unemployment backlog

Rooney calls for replacing DOL commissioner after weeks-long unemployment backlog

TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney is calling on Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo to resign if he can’t fix the unemployment backlog. Rooney has heard complaints for weeks from frustrated constituents about delays, backlogs and a generally unresponsive unemployment system.

“Fixing the current systemic problems with unemployment clearly requires new leadership,” said Rooney (R-Bergen).  “Since Murphy won’t reopen the economy to maintain jobs, he needs to fix unemployment immediately.”

Rooney said his office is currently handling hundreds of open unemployment cases in his district.  After waiting six weeks to get a return call, one constituent was put on hold for three hours before being disconnected.

“I’ve heard excuses and blame, but not the leadership and action that is needed to help,” said Rooney.  “Over a million New Jerseyans are without jobs and in dire need of a financial lifeline. But, there doesn’t seem to be any ideas coming forward to fix the problems.”

A total of 1,017,99 workers filed jobless claims since the beginning of the state economic shutdown.  While the number of new claims each week has decreased, the list of those trying to get through to the department has grown longer.

The labor department has cited technical issues and high traffic as reasons for its website’s outages the past two weeks. It was most recently unable to process new claims Tuesday night.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the department managed an influx of claims by using employees from other departments to help handle the caseload, among other steps to ensure residents were helped. The department has not taken similar action despite greater demand.

“The labor department is an essential business right now that is failing at its job,” concluded Rooney.  “It is simply unacceptable that so many people are left more stressed and hopeless.”